Feb. 27, 2012
BY: ANDREW LENTZ
INDIANAPOLIS - Former Tennessee defensive lineman Malik Jackson stepped on the football field Monday with something to prove, much like he did at Neyland Stadium time and time again over the past two seasons.
Except this time, it was inside the home of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium for the NFL Combine.
"It was a great experience," Jackson said. "I was just happy that I could come down here with the top prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft and show what I have to offer. I'm glad I had a chance to talk to these teams and let them know who I was and what I have to offer to their franchise."
Jackson posted a 4.91 in the 40-yard dash, recorded 25 reps on the bench press and tallied a 28-inch vertical jump, among other results, but it was his ability to speak about his game that impressed teams the most.
"The biggest thing I felt like I did was talked football, good football with them," Jackson said. "Being with Coach Dooley's staff, they taught me a lot about football and how to not only go out there and play football, but how to go out there and talk football. (The teams) liked the way I knew what I was talking about, knew my plays and knew what to do in certain situations."
Named to the All-SEC first team by the media in 2011 and the second team by the coaches, Jackson led the Vols in tackles for loss (11) sacks (2.5) and quarterback hurries (10).
Parlaying his career-high 56 tackles in 2011 into a Senior Bowl appearance in January, Jackson looks at the opportunities afforded to him while wearing orange as critical to where he's at now in the NFL Draft process.
"If I didn't go to Tennessee or do what I did at Tennessee, I wouldn't really be in this position," Jackson said. "Tennessee helped me so much in what I wanted to do. It offered me a new home to show my skills on a different stage and different level in the SEC in a top-notch environment.
"I just thank Coach Dooley and his staff for giving me the opportunity. I'm just happy I went there because I don't think it could've worked out any better."
While most players go to the NFL Combine to showcase what they've learned, the former Vol used the experience to continue learning.
"Be humble and work hard," Jackson said of the lesson he received. "There are a thousand guys out here that look just like you or have just as much ability as you. You have to stand out from each and every one of them. I just worked hard in everything I tried to do. You just have to go out there, be your best and be you."
For Jackson, that's never been a problem.
JACKSON'S NFL COMBINE RESULTS
40-yard Dash: 4.91 sec
Bench Press: 25 reps
Vertical Jump: 28.0 inch
Broad Jump: 105.0 inch
3-cone Drill: 7.38 sec
20-yard Shuttle: 4.41 sec